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May 27, 2004

Tom Watson


JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen. Atop the leaderboard at the 65th Senior PGA Championship. Minus 4.

TOM WATSON: Why don't you have glasses up here?

JULIUS MASON: We can get those too. Some thoughts on your round and maybe we'll talk about your --

TOM WATSON: My round was really somewhat unexpected. Yesterday I came out to the course to, after the interview I was going to hit some balls and of course then they blew the siren and I wasn't hitting it very well when they blew the siren. It was just a struggle. I worried about it all night and I decided one of the things that I did after the PGA at up at Hazeltine, I had a bad third round there and I went and made a little bit different change in my golf swing and freed it up and it tended to work for me today warming up. And then on the first nine I hit some pretty good quality shots doing it. And then back nine I got into a pretty good groove. Hit some very good shots with it on the back side. So that combined with made a couple good putts, the last three holes, it was a good round of golf. My confidence is a lot higher now than it was yesterday, when I was sitting here talking to you guys.

JULIUS MASON: Could you go through the card real quick. Let's talk about your bogey and the five birdies.

TOM WATSON: If we want to start out in the way I played the round, I started at number 10, I hit a driver and a 3-wood just short of the green. And it probably was the wrong second shot. I probably should have laid back a little further because I ended up on that down slope to a short pin, just over a deep bunker. But I hit a heck of a good shot. Landed it between the bunker and the pin and it rolled by about 12 feet and I made the putt for birdie.

The next hole I got it up-and-down out of the right bunker. Put it in the right bunker -- I didn't hit that bad a shot. I tried to cut a 7-iron and it caught the wind and the wind, we didn't feel the wind, the wind blew it to the right. But I was fortunate, I was on the up slope and I hit a real good bunker shot out about a foot.

I got a good break at 14 off the tee. I hooked it hard. It hit a tree and it knocked it back out short of the bunker. I hit a 4-iron, a good shot out of the rough, knocked it just through the green down that little bowl that Jack says he's going to fix one of these days. And I had a perfect putt right through the apex of the bottom of the bowl. So I had a very straight putt just up and over. 3-putted that for par.

18, I hit a real good drive, I hit a 4-wood just over the green. Again in the short cut. I putted it down about a foot from the hole for an easy birdie.

Started off on the front nine, on No. 2, I hit a bad drive with a 3-wood. I put it in the, just short of the bunker and I hit a good shot with a 4-wood, my second shot, and it ended up in one of those Nicklaus bowls again to the right of the green. This time I could have made a double bogey, because I putted it up and it came out real soft, just short of going over the top of the hill, it could have come back. But it stayed there. From there I rolled it by about six feet and I made that putt for bogey. So talking about that was probably the most critical putt I made today right there to kind of keep my confidence going.

Number 4, I got the ball up-and-down out of the bunker, I drove it too close to the green, I tried to get greedy and I didn't have a, didn't hit a very good shot. Just didn't hit it hard enough. I hit a sand wedge from about 40 yards and it ended up in the bunker, but again I was on the up slope and I played a good bunker shot out about a foot and it was an easy par.

I missed a short birdie putt at 7 from about 8 feet and then -- sorry, at 5 from about 8 feet.

6, I knocked it in with a pitching wedge about 10 feet and made that putt.

7, I hit it just in the right rough going to the left route, hit a 4-wood on to the green, 2-putted from about 50 feet for birdie.

9, I hit a driver and a 6-iron, I made it from about, oh, I was about 16, 18 feet short of the hole. I may the putt.

JULIUS MASON: Questions, folks?

Q. How much with the wind conditions and the back nine for you today, the front nine which is a little more wide open, did maybe your -- this may be paralysis by analysis, but did your former experience at the British Opens come into play? Does it help you at all playing in the wind?

TOM WATSON: Well, yeah, the wind experience at this golf course helped me, by playing it a couple times, sure. A couple of issues out there, a couple of the shots there, club selections, it did make a difference that I, fortunately, could remember.

Q. Considering how much rain we have had here lately, how did the course play? Did it play as long as you had feared that it would?

TOM WATSON: It played long, but whenever you get the ball in your hand it skews the scores. Because you are always hitting a dry ball from a perfect lie when you hit the ball in the fairway. Even though it plays long, it doesn't play that tough. Because of that factor.

Q. Would you characterize whatever change you made for today just as a tweak or?

TOM WATSON: Yeah, just a takeaway thought where I rotate a little bit more, the left arm rotates a little bit more.

Q. Is that something like you sit there in the hotel, did you do anything with it last night or?

TOM WATSON: No, I was thinking about it last week and I worked on it a little bit last week and it didn't seem to work very well. But I think my -- I'm going to stick with it.

Q. Second hole's been very difficult for a lot of people here, some people saying that's not a green you can hit into with a long iron very well. What are your thoughts on that hole?

TOM WATSON: Well, the PGA wants to see if it plays better as a par-4 as a par-5 for the upcoming Ryder Cup and other PGA Championships here for the kids. I can understand that. And with a soft fairway, it plays all right. It's just a long, tough shot. The green itself with that bowl to the right is not that great a shot going in there with a 3- or 4-iron. But you should be able to hit less than a 3- or 4-iron in there normally if you hit a pretty decent shot off the tee. I fanned my 3-wood off the tee and I had just under 200 yard to the front edge of the green. But I fanned it. And I could have hit it 30 yards farther and had 170 yards to the front edge of the green. And that's a reasonable shot.

Q. You finished ninth here a couple several years ago, talk about that and do you like this course, obviously, does it suit your game?

TOM WATSON: Well, this course must bring out my good play, because I really played well back in 2000. I didn't putt very well. I shot that 65 in the third round, but I, the putter was pretty poor. I hit the ball very, very, very well that week. I had a lot of opportunities for birdies that I didn't make. But there's certain things on the golf course, certain wind conditions, certain shots on the golf course when you're down in the valley here that you learn. And I forgot the one at No. 11 today. No. 11 the wind blowing it left-to-right. You know that's happening. And even though the wind feels like it's in your face right-to-left, it's blowing left-to-right up there. And that was a mistake. But a couple other shots I played, I played with the same thoughts that I had in 2000 and in '96, so it helps to play this golf course. It helps to play this golf course in competition before -- it gives you an advantage over the guys that never played it before. It's like as I said yesterday.

Q. Did you come out early this morning and have to wait or did you wait at your hotel and come in late?

TOM WATSON: I called at 5, caught Kerry Haigh. He said they were going to make a call, a decision at 6. I figured that they probably wouldn't be playing. I call at quarter to 6 and they said 8:30 would be, they would make an announcement at 8:30. And I figured they would go for another hour and then go out. I called that right on. I said -- my wife asked me what time we were going to play and I said 10:10. And that's what time I was playing.

Q. It's obviously early in the week, but you've already won this championship once before, what would it mean to win it a second time?

TOM WATSON: Well, this is the golf professional's championship and over the years that trophy, if you ever have taken a look at that trophy and seen the names on there, Sneads, Palmers, Nicklaus', and that trophy means a lot. That is a -- it's about the biggest darn trophy you ever saw in golf. I have never seen one that big. It means a great deal to put your name on that trophy along with those names.

Q. You're playing with John Jacobs and you played with Jack Nicklaus, kind of two guys at the end of the spectrum when it comes to demeanor on a golf course. What was that like out there today?

TOM WATSON: Well, J.J.'s great on a golf course. Jack is, Jack was frustrated today. He got some -- he hit the ball in the wrong position a few times and didn't make the putts. I got -- I put the ball in the right position and made the putts. That's kind of the difference between his score and mine. J.J. had three bogeys in a row starting out, but he kept it in there. If he would have made a couple more putts, he didn't putt particularly well. But the demeanors are -- J.J.'s, he's a big old Teddy bear. He says, "I don't know what I would be doing if I wasn't playing golf, except probably trying to win a hundred thousand dollars at the track. So I think I would rather be playing golf. It's a lot nicer atmosphere out here."

JULIUS MASON: Tom Watson, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.

TOM WATSON: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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